The Near Horizon: August 2018

Well, July was better than June, at least. But this is going to be an unhappy update.

Let's see, where to start? I guess with that situation I mentioned last update that either could be nothing or could be a big problem? Well...I still don't know. I've visited my doctor and he doesn't seem to think it's that big a deal, and I'm still basically as functional as I was before I started noticing the problem, so I'm calmer about it now. Still a problem, though.

Overall, I'd say that my anxiety and depression levels have gone down. I'm now trying to just kind of get back into a routine. I can at least say that I'm doing noticeably better than in June and for most of this year so far.

First, I want to get writing updates out of the way, and then I'll get onto the bulk of this update and why it's a mixed bag and why you probably won't like it.

First of all, Dead Winter is done. It's been posted in full. Thank you to everyone who read, voted, and/or commented. Obviously I've set up for a sequel. When will I write one? Uh...I'll address in the last section of this update.

I finally updated The DOOM Chronicles. I'm sorry about that nearly two month gap. I am actually working on it again regularly. I'm really going to try and pick up the slack this month.

The only other thing I'm working on right now, And There Was Another, is being updated much more regularly. I'm feeling this one right now, so it's coming a lot easier. I'm actually in the middle of writing the first climax of the story, or the end of the first planet, since my story's parts can be measured in planets, much like KOTOR. I'm looking forward to pressing on with this one.

Now, for the big part.

I'm frustrated, and bitter, and, more than anything, kind of just exhausted.

WattPad, I feel, has failed me. And not just me, but many authors.

Now, most of this I covered in my AFTERWORD for Dead Winter.

One big problem that emerged as, I think, a side-effect of lots of stress and anxiety and depression in June is that I really started kind of obsessing over the fact that hardly anyone seems to give a shit about me on WattPad. Like, seriously, it's ridiculous. The amount of work I put into writing a 15 novel franchise to where I'm at right now is pathetic. Back in June, it was a much more emotional response to being ignored by the majority, but now I'm at a more...academic viewpoint, I guess. More logical than emotional.

I'm tired of WattPad.

I did some digging into the seemingly obviously simple question of: Why can a person put in a great deal of consistent, legitimate work on a website that exists, fucking literally exists, as a place to write and get read, but then get passed over by middle schoolers shitting out error-riddled garbage about YouTubers and boybands?

It seemed to me that something had gone wrong here.

And don't get me wrong, I don't think I should be getting millions of views or anything, but I do feel like I should at least have a fair shot at getting viewed. It seems to me that a website that exists for people to write stories and then get read should promote people who, um, write. Not people who fucking obsess over message boards bullshitting about nothing.

Because that is what EVERYONE has told me. Fucking EVERYONE keeps telling me, and everyone else who has my problem, the same thing: you need to be socially active on the Clubs to get noticed.

Well, here's the thing. WattPad is not a social media website. It is a writing/reading website. Getting noticed as a writer should NOT, for any reason, be FORCIBLY tied to being social and active on Clubs.

Something has gone wrong.

I still want to write and obviously, I still need to. It's my job. But I really have to face the fact that WattPad is dragging me down. When I look at WattPad, now all I really see is a black hole, a time suck that effectively gives next to nothing in return for hard work.

Many people seem to be of the opinion that WattPad is now populated almost entirely by teenage girls, and apparently not even ONE teenage girl likes horror? Obviously hyperbolic, but it does present a problem for me. Why should I continue to agonize over a website that has subtly, over the course of the past few years, been manipulated and guided away from helping people like me to actually harming people like me in that the algorithms that guide the site now apparently actively guide people AWAY from me?

Dead Winter has a decent cover, was consistently updated twice a week, with decently-edited, consistent-length chapters, and has barely broken 1,000 Reads. I could understand if it was the first book posted under this account, but this account is now over 1 year old and has over THIRTY titles published under it. I should be firmly embedded in the WattPad algorithms by now. The fact that I'm not means that either the WattPad algorithm is broken, or is intentionally ignoring me.

Neither option is a good one.

Okay, so, obviously I'm not entirely devoid of emotions with regard to this. Then again, why wouldn't this still piss me off?

I spent a long time, I mean a long time, espousing the crucial importance of perseverance, of endurance. But I have wondered, how long before the fight's just kicked out of you? And what's the point of perseverance when you become certain that it won't lead you anywhere? Not out of emotional hopelessness, but out of a logical assessment of the situation. Which is where I'm roughly at right now.

I feel that these problems WattPad has are just going to get worse, and that by setting up the website the way they have, WattPad has made it clear that they no longer truly care about giving people a fair shot at getting noticed, (if they ever did), and instead will just promote stuff that's already popular with all the teenagers. I.e. nothing but romance? They'll go the route of basically every other fucking corporation and cater the lowest possible common denominator and the broadest possible audience, sacrificing every possible thing they can on the alter of visibility and cash.

I got a message in November 2017 on my profile that said "Hey man don't disappear like so many others." I tried to be reassuring, but now I'm not so sure myself. Why shouldn't I disappear? It isn't that it's hard to get a serious viewership, it's that it's either functionally impossible for someone like me, or the work versus reward is so insanely disproportionate that it makes no sense to pursue it.

If I thought I had an actual fair shot at gaining a genuine, real readership on this site, I would be happy to put in the work. I mean, I think I proved that when I wrote 15 fucking novels over the course of 3 years. I felt like I was actually *getting* somewhere back then. I think, collectively, I've maybe broken 20,000 Reads on all my titles so far.

I could get 20,000 fucking Reads on a SINGLE novel within a month or two back in 2014.

I don't feel like I'm actually progressing at all any longer. I feel like I'm shouting into a void. It's absurdly difficult to get views, it's next to impossible to get people to actually SAY something about what they're reading. (For the record, if you do comment on my works, I DO appreciate that genuinely. You have my thanks.)

So where, precisely, does this leave me?

Well, I'm not quitting writing, obviously. And I'm not necessarily quitting WattPad. But I do think that I'm no longer making it a priority. Or rather, I think that I haven't made it a priority for awhile now, and I'm finally just admitting that to myself.

I still want to write more Shadow Wars, and intend to post those here for those who want to read them. And I still intend to write and post fan fiction, because that's fun. But I think I need to shift my main priority to another project that can actually advance my career as a writer, instead of wasting time pouring resources and energy into writing for a website that does not give even one shit about me.

I can't remember precisely when and where I read it, but I recall coming across a post somewhere in the Clubs lamenting that another author was leaving WattPad, that WattPad was doing this to yet another writer, who felt as though their creative spark and joy was crushed out of them by the uncaring masses of the site, who seem to exist only to feed pointless, mindless, poorly-written garbage instead of stories written by people who actually care.

But this is the monster that has been created. This is our fault. As readers, we all apparently told WattPad that we'd rather read some garbage about a YouTuber or fucking One Direction (is that even a thing anymore?) instead of a genuine story written by someone who cares.

Well, that's about the size of it. I told you you weren't going to like it. I sure don't like it.

So what does this actually mean for the future?

Well, as I said, I'm going to press on with The DOOM Chronicles and And There Was Another. I'll wrap up Episode Two of DOOM and then put it back to sleep for awhile. I intend to keep going with And There Was Another until it's done, but that will probably be awhile. I've got five planets to cover in that story and I'm only just now wrapping up the first one.

Admittedly, I haven't managed to get any real work done on either Kane's War or my Halo fan fiction for a little while now. I keep meaning to get back to them, especially Kane's War, but I always seem to find a reason to put it off for just a little longer. I still do intend to work on them, mainly on Kane's War now since I'm kind of tied up on the fan fiction front, but I can't realistically promise any kind of start date any longer.

The main reason for that is because I am going to start working on my next big project, which will be under a completely new pen name, with completely new material. Awhile back, I believe I mentioned that I was writing Dead Winter to be published under a new pen name, by a new publisher. For some probably convoluted reasons, I ultimately decided against that. Now my plan is self-publish under this new name instead, but take my time doing it. I want to get actual professional editing, and actual professional cover art, and put together a real marketing campaign, and have at least a few novels worth of materials ready to go before I even begin publishing.

Obviously, this is going to take some time, and will be done basically in isolation. All I'll really say about it is that it's kind of a spiritual successor to The Shadow Wars, and it's a Sci-Fi/Horror shared universe.

So again, I'm sorry if this isn't what you want to hear. This is really just me facing reality. I hope you at least enjoy the stuff that I still will be putting up.

And I appreciate those that still do support me.